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      Frictional properties of incoming pelagic sediments at the Japan Trench: implications for large slip at a shallow plate boundary during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake

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      Earth, Planets and Space
      Springer Nature

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          Fault lubrication during earthquakes.

          The determination of rock friction at seismic slip rates (about 1 m s(-1)) is of paramount importance in earthquake mechanics, as fault friction controls the stress drop, the mechanical work and the frictional heat generated during slip. Given the difficulty in determining friction by seismological methods, elucidating constraints are derived from experimental studies. Here we review a large set of published and unpublished experiments (∼300) performed in rotary shear apparatus at slip rates of 0.1-2.6 m s(-1). The experiments indicate a significant decrease in friction (of up to one order of magnitude), which we term fault lubrication, both for cohesive (silicate-built, quartz-built and carbonate-built) rocks and non-cohesive rocks (clay-rich, anhydrite, gypsum and dolomite gouges) typical of crustal seismogenic sources. The available mechanical work and the associated temperature rise in the slipping zone trigger a number of physicochemical processes (gelification, decarbonation and dehydration reactions, melting and so on) whose products are responsible for fault lubrication. The similarity between (1) experimental and natural fault products and (2) mechanical work measures resulting from these laboratory experiments and seismological estimates suggests that it is reasonable to extrapolate experimental data to conditions typical of earthquake nucleation depths (7-15 km). It seems that faults are lubricated during earthquakes, irrespective of the fault rock composition and of the specific weakening mechanism involved.
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            Coseismic and postseismic slip of the 2011 magnitude-9 Tohoku-Oki earthquake.

            Most large earthquakes occur along an oceanic trench, where an oceanic plate subducts beneath a continental plate. Massive earthquakes with a moment magnitude, M(w), of nine have been known to occur in only a few areas, including Chile, Alaska, Kamchatka and Sumatra. No historical records exist of a M(w) = 9 earthquake along the Japan trench, where the Pacific plate subducts beneath the Okhotsk plate, with the possible exception of the ad 869 Jogan earthquake, the magnitude of which has not been well constrained. However, the strain accumulation rate estimated there from recent geodetic observations is much higher than the average strain rate released in previous interplate earthquakes. This finding raises the question of how such areas release the accumulated strain. A megathrust earthquake with M(w) = 9.0 (hereafter referred to as the Tohoku-Oki earthquake) occurred on 11 March 2011, rupturing the plate boundary off the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan. Here we report the distributions of the coseismic slip and postseismic slip as determined from ground displacement detected using a network based on the Global Positioning System. The coseismic slip area extends approximately 400 km along the Japan trench, matching the area of the pre-seismic locked zone. The afterslip has begun to overlap the coseismic slip area and extends into the surrounding region. In particular, the afterslip area reached a depth of approximately 100 km, with M(w) = 8.3, on 25 March 2011. Because the Tohoku-Oki earthquake released the strain accumulated for several hundred years, the paradox of the strain budget imbalance may be partly resolved. This earthquake reminds us of the potential for M(w) ≈ 9 earthquakes to occur along other trench systems, even if no past evidence of such events exists. Therefore, it is imperative that strain accumulation be monitored using a space geodetic technique to assess earthquake potential.
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              The 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake: displacement reaching the trench axis.

              We detected and measured coseismic displacement caused by the 11 March 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake [moment magnitude (M(W)) 9.0] by using multibeam bathymetric surveys. The difference between bathymetric data acquired before and after the earthquake revealed that the displacement extended out to the axis of the Japan Trench, suggesting that the fault rupture reached the trench axis. The sea floor on the outermost landward area moved about 50 meters horizontally east-southeast and ~10 meters upward. The large horizontal displacement lifted the sea floor by up to 16 meters on the landward slope in addition to the vertical displacement.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Earth, Planets and Space
                Earth Planet Space
                Earth, Planets and Space
                Springer Nature
                1880-5981
                2014
                2014
                : 66
                : 1
                : 65
                Article
                10.1186/1880-5981-66-65
                4b9809a4-4112-4310-8b62-39e44a0a7070
                © 2014
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